Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stormed into theaters earlier this year and was a triumph in every sense of the word. Director Matt Reeves had not only crafted a sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but had made a film that will surely be on many top 10 lists (it will be on ours) as one of the best movies of the year. All that buzz about Andy Serkis scoring the first Oscar nomination for a motion capture performance… well, it is more than founded.
Now Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has landed on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital download and the entire package is as brilliant as the film itself (check out our theatrical Dawn of the Planet of the Apes review for more on that).
It’s been a decade since the action seen when you watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes online. The so-called Simian Flu has all but wiped out the human population. Survivors in San Francisco are huddled in refugee-like camp that they are forced to call home. Meanwhile, the apes (led by Serkis’ Caesar) are living quite the life themselves north of the city in the woodsy ape paradise where they are building families and forging a future.
Yet, when the two sides surprisingly meet (shown in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer), a fragile peace is broken.
On one side you have Jason Clarke and Keri Russell, two survivors who believe we can live alongside the apes. On the other is Gary Oldman, who believes that the only good ape is a dead ape. When it comes to the humans, who will lead them?
Then, there are the apes. Serkis’ Caesar is confused. He wants to believe the humans can be worked with, but history has not proven that to be correct. He is also keeping down an element of his tribe that wants to finish off the humans and rule the planet (as the title says!).
The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes DVD and Blu-Ray bonus features are massive and should keep fans of the film quite entertained! There are over two hours of it! Here are some of our favorites and why…
Given our utter adoration for what Serkis does, the featurette Andy Serkis: Rediscovering Caesar is a must view. Watching the actor not only get back into the character he created in the first film, but witnessing him trying to channel this creature that has lived through what he experienced in the 10 years that have gone by since that film’s time period is nothing short of an actor at his best.
Plus, technology has grown immensely since that first film. Reeves and his team now have the ability to do mo-cap on location and as such it is beyond impressive to see technology meet talent (Serkis') in this bonus feature.
As Serkis is not the only one in a mo-cap suit, the featurette Human and Apes: The Cast of Dawn is a terrific addition to this home video package. Did you know that Judy Greer was in the film? Yep, she and a dozen other actors donned the mo-cap suits and headed out into the forest with Serkis, and watching them all at work is mesmerizing. The human cast also gets its due in this documentary short, and we’ll always watch a behind-the-scenes look at Oldman at work!
Weta and Dawn shows why the New Zealand-based special effects house is quickly becoming one of the best in the world. Peter Jackson first introduced us to them with their work on the Lord of the Rings movies, and they have only exponentially grown in talent and scope. Their work on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is sublime to say the least.
And we cannot recommend enough the audio commentary by director Reeves. It is clear that this film is his passion project and his adulation is on every frame -- hearing him talk about the filmmaking while watching his movie is a true gift.